Library Services


Orwell Archive

Georgre Orwell portrait

2000 vols, 20 mss. boxes, 200 photographs

The George Orwell Archive is the most comprehensive body of research material relating to the author George Orwell (Eric Blair) (1903-1950) anywhere. Manuscripts, notebooks and personalia of George Orwell were presented in 1960 on permanent loan by his widow on behalf of the George Orwell Archive Trust, supplemented by donations and purchases. The aim of the Trustees of the Archive was to make a research centre for Orwell studies, by bringing together all [Orwell's] printed works, including newspaper items; private correspondence; other private papers in the possession of his widow; printed matter other than his own which will help later generations to understand the controversies in which he was involved; and tape recordings or written statements by all with first hand experience of him of any consequence.

Contents of the Orwell Archive

1. Manuscripts

The Archive's collection of manuscripts includes:

  • literary notebooks
  • political diaries
  • domestic diaries
  • radio scripts (copies lent by the BBC)
  • manuscript and typescript material

2. Personal papers

Two boxes of personal papers contain material such as:

  • birth certificates
  • Orwell's driving licence and family letters

Orwell's identification card and other papers relating to Spain and Morocco

3. Correspondence

The Archive holds original letters, and copies of letters possessed by Orwell's correspondents or in other collections. Correspondents include T.S.Eliot, Arthur Koestler, Emma Goldman, Herman Gollancz and George Woodcock. From time to time Orwell letters do turn up; some are acquired by the Archive, which also attempts to keep a note of all such new locations.

4. Original background material

This section contains material from other sources which shed light on some aspect of Orwell's life. It includes:

  • papers relating to the various organisations with which Orwell was linked
  • letters about Orwell, both contemporary and posthumous
  • a collection of personal reminiscences and interviews with people who knew Orwell

5. Articles by Orwell

The Archive has a collection of almost all Orwell's known published articles, in photocopy and in microfiche form. They are classified by the title of the journal, newspaper or other publication in which they appeared.

6. Printed books

There are around 2,000 volumes in the printed book collection, including Orwell's own library. The Archive has a strong collection of:

  • proof copies
  • significant editions
  • translations of Orwell's works
  • critical and background books

There is a classified catalogue for this section. All post-1982 additions are traceable on the Library's on-line system Explore.

7. Reviews and articles

The Archive attempts to collect all major articles on Orwell and his writings, in both photocopy and microfiche form. However, there is no systematic monitoring of such items, and the Archive is largely dependent on donations. A numbered list and author index exists for this collection, classified according to the specific work by Orwell or aspect of his life.

8. Audio-visual material

The Archive has a collection of around 200 photographs, and also video tapes of film and television productions, in some cases accompanied by scripts. There is a classified card index for this collection.